A Gallon a Day

Today I got an e-mail from Microsoft to fill out a survey for their Commute program. I don’t participate in it, I’m that guy who drives alone in the car each way. But, when I got done, it made me think about what would the benefit be if I took the bus? So, I started doing numbers:

  • Number of trips per month (each way): 46
  • Total millage (each way): ~11mi
  • Average MPG: 22
  • Last price paid for gas: $3.49/gal

After taking a look at that, I roughly estimate that I burn one gallon of gas each day commuting to and from work. That translates to at the most (at least currently) about $3.49 total round trip gas cost.

Next, I went to visit Sound Transit’s website. The ST545 route comes very often and drops off riders right at the 40th street off ramp at Microsoft. The cost of that route is $2.50 each way since it is a two zone trip. So, that would cost $5/day instead of ~$3.49/day. On top of that, I am not close enough to walk to the Montlake bus stop to catch this bus. I have two real options to get to that stop:

  1. Drive near the stop and look for free parking then walk to the stop.
  2. Catch the 25, which only comes every 30min, and get off at Montlake

Between the two above options, the 1st is the more plausible option. There is ample street parking near the bus stop and it would be a short walk to catch the bus. In addition, when I got home, I could get right into my car and drive home instead of waiting for another bus. The downside is that I don’t really gain much time here. I have to wait for the bus for about the same amount of time I’d be waiting in my car to enter 520. Then, once on 520 I have the advantage since my next stop is my parking space at my office instead of being dropped off by the bus at the 40th Street on ramp.

On the way home, things get more complicated. I don’t leave at the same time every day. I sometimes leave at 5pm, sometimes later. If I am leaving at 5pm, there is probably a benefit of taking the bus since it can utilize the HOV lane the entire way up until the bridge. What that time savings is, I don’t know. I would imagine that it is probably about 10 min or so, but I’m just guessing. Again, when I get off the bus, I can either catch another, or walk to my parked car and drive home.

After thinking about all of this, it just doesn’t make sense for me to take the bus. I wish it did, but I can’t seem to find a good reason to make it work for me. Granted, taking one car off the road should be reason enough, but it just doesn’t make sense for me and what I do. I’d be paying more to ride the bus and traveling between meetings would be more difficult since I have more dependencies on external transportation services. This means I spend more time traveling and less time working.

Anyways, I thought it was interesting to see the differences between riding the bus and driving alone. Does that mean then that I’d be willing to pay up to $5 for a gallon of gas? Sadly, probably.